Swine flu: Expect 40% absentee rate says Gartner

Organisations should not panic about the spread of swine flu, but must evaluate and update their business continuity plan, according to Gartner.

Roberta Witty, Gartner research VP, said businesses should fill in any missing elements in their plans “by the end of this week”.

“Starting today, IT managers should meet with senior executives, line-of-business managers and other high-level decision-makers to answer any questions,” she said, so that there would be “a broad, ongoing commitment” to being prepared. IT managers also needed to test and add capacity for staff to work at home.

It was reasonable for managers to expect absenteeism rates of 40 percent or higher in their own companies or among suppliers and partners, Gartner said, “resulting in severe operational disruptions”.

Gartner said managers should ensure response plans:

• Identify existing and projected critical skills shortages

• Initiate necessary cross-training, testing or certification of personnel

• Make sure that cross-trained personnel have the appropriate system/applications access rights

• Determine which business operations are sustainable, and at what level, and the likely downtime for normal business operations during periods with absenteeism rates of 40 percent or higher

• Immediately initiate rigorous, ongoing and well-documented testing to isolate and remediate identified problem areas.

• Prepare for travel restrictions to be significant in the event of an epidemic and near-universal in the event of a pandemic.

• Implement a communications programme that ensures that all personnel are aware of the business’s pandemic response plans, as well as measures they can take to limit the spread of the disease-including practices as simple as regular hand-washing.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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